MEDFORD, Ore. — Water levels in Southern Oregon lakes are several feet below average. Medford is coming out of the driest calendar year on record and more rain is needed before lake levels return to normal.
Right now, Lost Creek Lake is 4 feet down from average and Applegate Lake is about 25 feet below average. Officials say Applegate is significantly smaller than Lost Creek and rises and empties quicker.
Typically, Lost Creek Lake is down 60 feet this year – this year it’s down 64 feet. This is the time of year the lake is typically refilled as more water is coming into the lake than leaving the lake.
The Army Corps of Engineers want to cut back on the release just a little to store every drop they can without harming the environment of those who depend on the water.
In the 16 years operations, Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Jim Buck has worked at the lake, he says he’s never seen it this low at this time of year. He says, however, there is still time and no need to panic.
“2001 was a formal drought year, we’re not talking a formal drought this year, and we still have some time to catch up. In 2001, we did not fill, we came within about 10 feet at Lost Creek,” Buck explained.
Buck also says the reservoirs were designed to empty carry over storage in extreme drought situations. 2001 was a year this was used, but must be used wisely to avoid running out.